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Transforming Fridge Into Smoker

12 posts in this topic

Hi All,

I have a fridge that I was using for beer etc. in the basement. It's old and finally gave out a couple months ago.

I've also been looking into getting a smoker. As much as I'd like a new, top-o-the-line smoker, I thought I may look into transforming the fridge first.

Has anyone ever done this? What's involved? Here's what I'm thinking off the top of my head.

• The freezer is on top, so I thought I'd flip the whole thing.

• Remove all the exterior coils, motor etc.

• Drill some holes between the freezer compartment and the fridge compartment.

• Drill a hole at the top of the fridge and insert a length of pipe.

• Use a habatchi or hot plate as a heat source, placed in the freezer compartment.

• Use wood of my choice, soaked in water, place with heat source. Smoke goes through the holes into the fridge, smokes/cooks whatever's in there and smoke vents out the top.

• Probably use a ratchet around the whole thing to keep it air tight.

Could I use a small charcoal grill as the heat source? Fill that up with charcoal and add wood chips and it would last a long time.

On the flip side: I'm nervous about the insulation, the plastic on the interior and anything that may be coated on the racks.

Am I better off dumping this thing and getting the real deal?

Any info on this type of project would be very appreciated.

Thanks!

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A friend of mine used an old fridge for a smoker.

He took out everything so it was an empty shell.

Made brackets to hold the old metal grates at different levels.

Cut a hole on top and added a small short stack for the smoke to exit.

The fridge had the latching door handle that worked slick and held the door closed tight.

He also bolted on an old dolly on the back side so he could move the whole thing around with ease. Used the old bottom drawrers from the fridge to hold the ashes.

Hope this helps!

Finlander grin

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An old refrigerator was the classic basis for a smoker years ago. Unfortunately, today they are all plastic on the inside. You rarely see one old enough to be lined with enamel sheet metal. The plastic turns into a stinky mess and once it gets a little too hot, it turns into a melted scorched mess.

If I were going to build a smoker today, I would start with an old stove. The drawer area underneath would be easily converted to a fire box and it comes with racks. They vent through one of the burners but you might want to make some alteration so you have an adjustable vent. If it's not big enough, think about adding a second one on top with holes for the smoke. Check your local Menards, they sell some secondhand appliances in the yard but most are just cart aways by the delivery folks and they will give them to you or charge you a couple of bucks (scrap prices are up). You will often have a good selection. Best of all you are starting with something that is intended to get hot.

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Bill, I think the stove idea would be the route to go.

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I can tell you what I did for mine...Find the right old fridge...preferably one with the rounded corners and single door. (Check with recycling center for old fridges and oven racks)Strip it bare inside...all plastic, insulation, rubber door gasket. You'll likely need to move the door hinges in to make up for the space from removing the door gasket. Get some racks from a stove...I've always heard NOT to use refrigerator racks) You might need to cut the racks to get them to fit...sawzall time. Drill and run threaded rods to set racks on, 2 rows, front and back. I had 4 racks about 6 inches apart. Various ways to make a heat source...I used wood, then a small charcoal grill (easier to keep the heat up, and consistent. I made 1 more "rack" 6 inches above the heat source, but put sheet metal on it to hold a water/wood chip pan on, and to dissapate the heat. I used that smker for 10 plus years and lots of salmon,,,she finally burned out beyond repair and was retired:( I'm sure an oven would work, but I like the vertical shape of a fridge better.

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As BillP said, most modern refrigerators have way too much plastic on the inside to be used as a smoker. A friend of a friend actually did the oven route and he used the electric heating element in the oven as his heat source. He built a metal tray that sat just above the bottom heating element. It worked great. The oven would cycle to keep the heat at the proper level which was usually very low. You can crack open the door to let the heat out if you need to.

If I was in the market for a new smoker I would check out the used/old oven route.

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modern is the key...find an old fridge, they're still out there.

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I did it last summer.

Wife had a beermeister (yeah I know I married a goddess) that fits a quarter barrel and it was always freezing up in the back, forcing the keg out, letting the beer warm, and requiring me to break the ice out with a hammer. It was a pain.

Last summer, I hit it kinda hard and it sounded like a balloon letting air out when the coil got pinged. At first, I was a bit disappointed, but then I came up with a plan. I would use the downstairs fridge for the kegerator and its a frost free fridge, so that works dandy.

Then, I would convert the kegerator to a fish smoker. Let me tell you, things got interesting, but I stripped it down to barebones which was a pain in the rear. I had a lot of walnut finished lumber, and I lined the entire case with that, screwed from the outside. Then I bought 2 electric burners and took and extra dogdish for a chiptray and I got me a dandy smoker. The exta burner is needed because you want the smoker to get hot enough to hot smoke the fish, smoke temperatures from 160 to 190. Cold smoking fish takes forever and I don't have that much time.

My first batch was 5-6 whities and they were truly as good as the smoked fish from Bearcat's Smokehouse in Algoma, WI. Bearcat's has hands down the best smoked fish in at least 2 states.

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ive seen them made out of a fridge that was in a barn fire and was half burnt already so he lit the whole thign on fire and got rid of everything not meatle or cumbustalbe..... if there is too much plastic keep your fridge and use as a minnow tank..

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I did it last summer.

Wife had a beermeister (yeah I know I married a goddess) that fits a quarter barrel and it was always freezing up in the back, forcing the keg out, letting the beer warm, and requiring me to break the ice out with a hammer. It was a pain.

Last summer, I hit it kinda hard and it sounded like a balloon letting air out when the coil got pinged. At first, I was a bit disappointed, but then I came up with a plan. I would use the downstairs fridge for the kegerator and its a frost free fridge, so that works dandy.

Then, I would convert the kegerator to a fish smoker. Let me tell you, things got interesting, but I stripped it down to barebones which was a pain in the rear. I had a lot of walnut finished lumber, and I lined the entire case with that, screwed from the outside. Then I bought 2 electric burners and took and extra dogdish for a chiptray and I got me a dandy smoker. The exta burner is needed because you want the smoker to get hot enough to hot smoke the fish, smoke temperatures from 160 to 190. Cold smoking fish takes forever and I don't have that much time.

My first batch was 5-6 whities and they were truly as good as the smoked fish from Bearcat's Smokehouse in Algoma, WI. Bearcat's has hands down the best smoked fish in at least 2 states.

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All the above are correct, if I could figure out how to post pics to FM I would show you mine. I have 2 of them. Look on HSOforum [YouNeedAuthorization] for old fridges, somebody is always trying to get rid of one. Make sure the door is all one piece, not two and make sure you have metal insides.

I use a 2 burner hot plate that I got at Walmart for $30. The second burner hardly gets used so that way you have it just in case you need to add extra heat. One burner holds the smoke pot, which is a metal bowl that I got at the dollar store. I use Little Chief smoke chips which are very fine. I pour about 2 cups of smoke chips in there in the bowl and make a hole in the middle with my finger so they burn from the middle of the bowl out. The chips usually last about an hour or so. And I do about 4-5 pots of smoke per batch of meat, which is just about right for ppl's taste buds.I also have a water pan. It about 8 x 11 by 2 high and sits on legs above the left burner. Right burner holds the smoke pan.

The only thing I would ad to the replys is to get two tru temp thermometers from Target, cost $15 a piece. Thread the end of one thru the smoke stack so that the probe is hanging in the smoke house to read the temp of the smoke house. The other I use for reading meat temps, and when you get close to being done or what you think is done I use both for reading meat temps.

The huge huge advantage of a fridge smoker versus a fancy new one is the amount of meat being able to smoke in it. I smoke tons of venison (just got done with 150 lbs of sticks and sausage). A fancy new one can't hold the amount of meat that I can do with my fridge.

If you post an email addy or someone gives me directions I can get pics posted up.

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